What Things Could The Rich Buy In Ancient Rome

What Things Could the Rich Buy In Ancient Rome?

Ancient Rome was one of the most powerful empires in the world, and consequently, its wealthy citizens had access to many luxuries which other societies did not. In this article, we explore what things the rich could purchase in Ancient Rome.

First, the wealthiest individuals in Ancient Rome could purchase expensive food items, such as fine meats and seafood. Wealthy Romans often enjoyed lavish feasts served on fine porcelain platters and often imported exotic ingredients from other regions, such as spices and exotic fruits. These feasts were often times attended by politicians and royalty, making it a status symbol for those who could afford it.

Furthermore, the wealthy could acquire fine fabrics, gained from conquered provinces. Some of these fabrics can still be found in modern museums, and included luxurious items such as silk, linen, damask and velvet.

Additionally, the wealthy could purchase furniture, clothing and decorations to adorn their villas. A great example of this was the Noble Villa of Hadrian’s, who was the Emperor of Rome from 117 to 138 AD. This villa featured extravagant marble floors and walls, intricate mosaics, and painted ceilings.

The wealthiest individuals of Ancient Rome could also purchase extravagant jewelry and works of art. Jewelry was often made from precious metals such as gold and silver and was engraved with intricate designs. Statues and paintings were popular items and often created by renowned artists such as the famous Greek sculptor, Phidias.

Finally, one of the most sought after items that wealthy Romans could purchase were slaves. Slaves were used to perform everyday tasks, such as cooking, cleaning, and caring for children. Some slaves, who were especially gifted, were also hired as musicians and dancers, developing a renowned reputation among the elite and wealthy.

Luxury Homes

The wealthy of Ancient Rome were not just limited to buying items, they could also purchase luxury homes, built with the finest materials available. Wealthy Romans had access to the best marble, wood and gold, which was often used to decorate their expensive mansions and villas. These homes often featured courtyards and exquisite gardens to evoke a sense of tranquility. Furthermore, some homes had luxurious bath houses, which consisted of hot, cold and thermal pools.

Often times, these homes would also have lavish pieces of furniture and decorations to create a warm and inviting atmosphere. Wealthy Romans often enjoyed their mansions as a way to escape from their hectic and demanding lifestyles. Although very few of these homes remain as they were in Roman times, they can still be seen in museum collections around the world.

Luxury Ships

Another thing the wealthy of Rome could purchase were luxurious ships to be used for travel and leisure. Wealthy citizens would often invest in ships to ferry them to their villas and the many parties they attended. Some of these ships were luxuriously adorned with ivory, silks, and even marble and gold. These ships were often equipped with sun-decks, sleeping areas, and specially designed beds just for lounging. Additionally, these ships also featured hot and cold pools and baths, allowing the wealthy citizens to get a massage or take a dip as they traveled from place to place.

Luxury Clothing

Few things showcased one’s wealth more prominently than exotic clothing. Wealthy citizens of Ancient Rome had access to the finest fabrics and materials, such as silk, linen, and velvet, which were often adorned with jewels and embroidery. Wealthy Romans could also buy custom-made outfits and tunics, which were tailored to suit the individual’s exact needs and measurements. Not only did this clothing look fashionable, but it was also created with the highest quality fabrics. Many wealthy Romans would invest heavily in their clothing as a way to demonstrate their wealth and social standing.


Education was also a way that wealthy citizens could distinguish themselves in Ancient Rome. Education was seen as a sign of wealth and status, and only the wealthiest citizens could afford access to the best teachers in the empire. Wealthy parents often funded educational tours abroad, so their children could gain firsthand knowledge of the other cultures around them. Wealthy Romans could also purchase special tutors for their children, enabling them to learn and understand the many languages of the vast Roman Empire. This privileged education was often unreachable for the lower and middle classes, however, it positioned citizens from wealthy classes as having an advantage in the ever-changing Roman society.

Public Influence

The wealthy citizens of Ancient Rome also had the power to influence public debates and decisions. Wealthy Romans often funded and founded public works, such as temples and monuments, as well as supporting armies in times of war. Additionally, their sponsorship of events and ceremonial functions also gave them a platform to display their wealth and influence. Wealthy Romans were also known to donate enough money to become members of the Senate. This granted them an even greater influence over public matters and cemented them as some of the most powerful individuals in the Roman Empire.

Moshe Rideout is a professional writer and historian whose work focuses on the history of Ancient Rome. Moshe is passionate about understanding the complexity of the Roman Empire, from its architecture to its literature, political systems to social structures. He has a Bachelor's degree in classic studies from Rutgers University and is currently pursuing a PhD in classical archaeology at UMass Amherst. When he isn't researching or writing, he enjoys exploring ruins around Europe, drawing inspiration from his travels.

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